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Watertown weighs in on mayoral primary tie

Allison Crossman, Cody Horbacz
Businesswoman Allison Crossman and Watertown City Councilor Cody Horbacz are tied for second place in a primary for mayor.

The Watertown City Council passed a resolution last night recommending that the Jefferson County Board of Elections certify three names on the ballot for the November mayoral election. The goal was to help end an impasse created when two candidates, Councilor Cody Horbacz and businesswoman Allison Crossman, tied for second place.

Watertown's local election law says the candidates who get to advance from the primary to the general election are the persons who received the largest and next largest number of votes for mayor. Councilor Ryan Henry-Wilkinson says he thinks the intent of the law was to narrow it down to two candidates, but he voted to send all three forward because the local law doesn't address what to do in the event of a tie.

"I believe it serves the intent in the democratic process," Henry-Wilkinson said. "It kind of seems to me and my colleagues that the only fair thing is to send all three of those candidates onto the general election."

Henry-Wilkinson hopes the council's interpretation of local law will persuade the Board of Elections to break this stalemate. All three the candidates also think the ballot should have everyone's name on it.

But Jefferson County's elections commissioners, who are split in their interpretation of the law, say they have no plan to certify any candidates on the ballot until a judge makes a ruling.

"To me, this is their attempt to dictate terms," said Jude Seymour, the Republican Commissioner. "I am not required to listen to them and I don’t think it’s appropriate to listen to them. They're all opinions and the only interpretation that matters is in the judiciary. That is the appropriate venue to resolve this."

Councilor Horbacz did not participate in the vote.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.